Rose was not angry, impatient, or irate. She was grateful. Her family came to visit from a distance more than once. Each time she would rally for a period of time to see them, kiss them, smile, tell them all “to sit down” and tell them how good they looked and how happy she was to see them. She never spoke about what was happening to her. She knew. So why talk about it?
She wanted to know how we were. How was Danny doing in Law School? How was Jennifer’s career going? How was Riley, her great-grandson? Her focus was always outward. Her spirit was filled with faith, and complete acceptance of the fact that she was in God’s hands. And for Rose, that was a good place to be.
Those closest to Rose, her husband and children, had their own intimate view and perception of her as a wife, mother, woman, grandmother, and aunt. What they could not fathom was how deeply her spirit and soul had touched the lives of so many people.
At her funeral, we heard from some of these people. And as we listened, we realized that this woman whom we had all seen as a simple, kind person, had in fact had a dramatic impact on the lives of others.
Rose had a quiet spirit with a big wallop. She left indelible imprints etched in the lives, souls, and spirits of others.
How deep were these imprints? Well, listen to some of the words said by various family members at the funeral…
- “She had a pure soul and a generous spirit. The way she made me feel as a child, the way she showered all of us with love, the way she was everybody’s aunt, no matter how large the family became, her pleasant demeanor and her reassuring smile are gifts she left, for all of us to hold onto. I hope that each of us, in our way, can try to live up to her legacy.”
- “My fondest teenage memories involve my loneliness in Florida and how she insisted I stay with them on Bachelder Street. It was a small apartment…but it felt like a mansion because of her love and warmth.”
- “I have learned a lot from my Aunt Rose, who had a great sense of humor and such a truly kind and sensitive love of life.”
- “She had the most musical laugh.”
When we stop and consider the spiritual nature of this journey for those making it, we’d do well to watch their acceptance of themselves during those declining days, and to look to the people who knew them the longest and loved them the most. We look to them because that’s where we find the consistency of who the person was – and will always be – for us.
As a Rabbi who is blessed with the opportunity to meet families with their own Roses, I leave you with the following notion to consider:
Funerals, really, are for the survivors. The person we are mourning has left us physically. But they’ll be “dead” only if there’s no one to remember them. Rose Meister will remain alive for generations to come…because her “spirit” and “spirituality” will live within each of us for the balance of our days.
Rabbi Mitch Feld, MSW, is the spiritual leader of Congregation Yom Chadash. Rabbi Mitch is available for speaking engagements, spiritual counseling and memorable life cycle events. You may find him at www.rabbimitch.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-755-3764. You will be glad you did.
Mom’s Ongoing Spiritual Journey – Part 2